Book Review: Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh

Posted June 17, 2022 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh
Genres: Mystery, British, Detective, Historical
Published by Felony & Mayhem Press on December 15 2012
Pages: 212
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Dead Water, Killer Dolphin, A Man Lay Dead, The Nursing Home Murder, Death in Ecstasy, Artists in Crime, Death in a White Tie, Overture to Death, Death at the Bar, Surfeit of Lampreys, Death and the Dancing Footman, Died in the Wool, Swing, Brother, Swing

Second in the Inspector Roderick Alleyn historical mystery series with a Scotland Yard detective and set in the 1930s.

My Take

Oh, boy. Actors. That Arthur is such a spoiled, unsavory jerk who thinks he’s so entitled!

It’s fascinating to go back in history and Marsh provides the flavor of the times as well as a taste of the theatre behind-the-scenes. It helps that Marsh is using third person global subjective point-of-view with the primary perspectives through Alleyn and Bathgate.

I do enjoy Alleyn. He’s both erudite and self-effacing. Of course Bathgate is conveniently on the scene and volunteers to take notes during the interviews. Yep, Nigel is a nosy boy, but always wants out of the nastier aspects of detecting. Their partnership is always interesting, at least in today’s light, as one wouldn’t expect law enforcement and civilians to partner up.

Poor Alleyn, poor police, always hoping witnesses will speak the truth and understand that no information is unhelpful. So hopeful. It does serve for Alleyn to suspect everyone.

Marsh creates a relationship between Nigel, Stephanie, and Felix from school days, which also ties in Arthur with his questionable actions at school.

The love triangle is one example of the drama throughout. That overly dramatic Stephanie ticks me off with her playing while Felix seems so sincere. Arthur? He’s such a whiny baby, thinking he’s entitled to so much that he hasn’t earned. Yes, it does point to Enter a Murderer as being character-driven with all this back-and-forth. What action there is definitely relates to events with a few scenes which provide a reflection of the times.

Most of the action is not on stage, although Alleyn does spend a lot of time there. Mostly the characters are flitting back and forth from lodging to hotel to flat, being dramatic.

It’s a reasonable pace although I did get rather bored with all the dramatics, and the prose has a combination of intellectual structure and everyday, depending on who’s speaking. Some of it is affected by the time period, which is always fun to read. I do love an historical of any time due to that feel the author provides of the culture, the mores, and the attitudes.

Psst, go get it from Amazon! It’s on sale right now.

The Story

Arthur is upset with the role he was assigned, but he won’t have long to regret it, for the Beaver is meant to be shot by the Rat, only neither actor expected a real bullet.

The suspects included two unwilling girlfriends and several relieved blackmail victims.

The Characters

Chief Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn is with CID Scotland Yard.

Scotland Yard
Inspector Fox is Alleyn’s partner. Detective-Sergeant Bailey does fingerprints. Inspector Boys. Detective-Sergeants Watkins and Allison are set to watch another of the suspects. Police Constables (PC) Thompson and Naseby will be following Hickson. Dr Milner.

Nigel Bathgate is a journalist with the Clarion who does get around. He’s also an old Cambridge friend of Felix’s. Bathgate is also pursuing Angela North (A Man Lay Dead, 1).

The alcoholic Arthur Surbonadier, a.k.a. Arthur Simes, believes he is entitled to better roles than he’s getting.

The Unicorn Theatre is . . .
. . . one of six theatres owned by the wealthy Jacob Saint, a.k.a. Jacob Simes, who is an actor who went into management and is Arthur’s uncle with a chequered past. Joseph Mincing is a footman. Sir Everard Sim is Saint’s doctor. Phillip Phillips, brother to King’s Counsel Phillips, is Saint’s lawyer in this.

George Simpson is the stage manager; Howard Melville is his assistant. Stavely is the business manager. Old Blair is the stage door manager. Albert Hickson is the property master. George Simpson “Props”, damaged in the war, handles the props. Staff includes Bert Willings. Trixie Beadle is Miss Vaughn’s dresser — she’s Bill Beadle‘s daughter. Bill is Mr Gardener’s dresser.

The roles in The Rat and the Beaver include Carruthers, alias the Rat; the Beaver, which is a showy part; a cast-off mistress and her mother; and, a Butler who’s also a gun man.

Stephanie Vaughan, a.k.a. Steff, loves Felix Gardener, who plays the lead.The emotionally dramatic Janet Emerald is the “heavy” of the play. Dulcie Deamer plays the jeune fille in life and in the play. J. Barclay Crammer, a character actor, could have played the Beaver well enough. Old Susan Max has been around for awhile.

Mortlake, a.k.a. Snow, Dopey, is a person of interest. Sniffy Quarles, a.k.a. Mr Charles, appears to be in the same business as Mortlake.

Edward Wakeford is the literary editor on a weekly paper. Mr Reckless will be Felix’s lawyer. Septimus Carewe. Daisy appears to be a friend of Susan’s.

The Cover and Title

The cover has an Art Deco feel with a grayed-out burgundy background, gradating from the banner up. There are white scalloped lines angling up from the bottom and out to the sides with a light gray pink banner for the white series info arcing at the bottom and the same light gray-pink filling the arcing banner in the middle forming a background for the author’s name in its exaggerated Art Deco font and its coloring with the dark burgundy, white, and textured paler grayed-burgundy. Framed by all this in the lower half is a smoking pistol against an almost-black burgundy background.

The title plays off theatre jargon: Enter a Murderer.

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